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D&D General D&D as a Curated, DIY Game or "By the Book": Examining DM and Player Agency, and the DM as Game Designer

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Have you never told a DM "Hey Insert Name, if you change this then that kinda breaks. You know that right?"

Let's take a real world example because hypotheticals don't always work. How DMs run shield master and the ability to shove someone varies. So if I have (or plan to take) shield master I'll ask the DM how they run it. So, yes, if they say that it can only be used after the attack is fully complete I'll explain why I think that for me it's no longer worth taking but I'll accept their ruling.

I guess I just see a fine line between asking how something works and telling them they're doing it wrong. To me, " if you change this then that kinda breaks. You know that right?" feels like I'm telling the DM that they're doing it wrong.
 

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prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
I guess I just see a fine line between asking how something works and telling them they're doing it wrong. To me, " if you change this then that kinda breaks. You know that right?" feels like I'm telling the DM that they're doing it wrong.
It seems as though it'd be slightly different if you pointed out a specific way in which the change broke something. "Hey, if you change [rule] then [effect] seems obvious. That what you want?" Or, "What are you trying to do by changing [rule]?"
 

embee

Lawyer by day. Rules lawyer by night.
Let's take a real world example because hypotheticals don't always work. How DMs run shield master and the ability to shove someone varies. So if I have (or plan to take) shield master I'll ask the DM how they run it. So, yes, if they say that it can only be used after the attack is fully complete I'll explain why I think that for me it's no longer worth taking but I'll accept their ruling.

I guess I just see a fine line between asking how something works and telling them they're doing it wrong. To me, " if you change this then that kinda breaks. You know that right?" feels like I'm telling the DM that they're doing it wrong.

You, sir, need to shut the hell up with your reasoned approach to life which, incredibly, appears to include dialogue, active listening, openmindedness, and a willingness to compromise. It's an affront to modern sensibilities and an outright abomination. It will surely lead this world to ruin!
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
You, sir, need to shut the hell up with your reasoned approach to life which, incredibly, appears to include dialogue, active listening, openmindedness, and a willingness to compromise. It's an affront to modern sensibilities and an outright abomination. It will surely lead this world to ruin!
Hey now, watch that language! ;)
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
It seems as though it'd be slightly different if you pointed out a specific way in which the change broke something. "Hey, if you change [rule] then [effect] seems obvious. That what you want?" Or, "What are you trying to do by changing [rule]?"

Sure. I'm just saying that I'm careful when I broach this kind of thing. I mean, my wife also DMs and there are times when I disagree with her rulings but we (hopefully) work it out like adults. So far I haven't had to sleep on the couch because of it so I guess it's working.

Even if I disagree, I can disagree respectfully. I'll also have a discussion other than a quick clarification outside of the game. Other times I'll just accept a ruling that's different than mine because I don't expect other DMs to run things exactly like I do.
 

... how do you mean? And which version of D&D did you learn on and which do you run now?
I learned on 1st edition (and Traveller). I'm running 5e now.
One of my fellow RL DMs has mentioned she used to take a dozen hours preparing each three hour session there and it was far too much of a job.
I probably spend about the same prepping for my 5e sessions. I don't work full time so I can. It's too much for someone just getting started in their career.
 

. Player just didn't question DMs that much or that hard and let DMs do whatever. Possibly because like you said and what I said.
Players have an expectation that the DM deals with the rules and controls the world. Players expect to focus exclusively on what their character says and does.
 

I learned on 1st edition (and Traveller). I'm running 5e now.

I probably spend about the same prepping for my 5e sessions. I don't work full time so I can. It's too much for someone just getting started in their career.
Oof. That's a lot, and I can understand why you don't get to play if you do that. I tend to spend about an hour per session, plus some time at the start setting up a lot of the setting. I can also understand why if you put that much effort in others starting out can't take that on.

Would some resources on making prep lighter help both you feel you were less of a dog and you to bring out other DMs? Also what do you use those 12 hours per session for?
 

Minigiant

Legend
I guess I just see a fine line between asking how something works and telling them they're doing it wrong. To me, " if you change this then that kinda breaks. You know that right?" feels like I'm telling the DM that they're doing it wrong.

That's me just asking if a consequence is intended or not. I think the harshness comes from DMs messing with the real crunch editions and offshoots willynilly.

Players have an expectation that the DM deals with the rules and controls the world. Players expect to focus exclusively on what their character says and does.
Players also know a DM is human and can miss things.

Should DMs shun help from players?
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
That's me just asking if a consequence is intended or not. I think the harshness comes from DMs messing with the real crunch editions and offshoots willynilly.


Players also know a DM is human and can miss things.

Should DMs shun help from players?
I may ask for clarification, and point out my understanding of the rules but. If the DM knows the rule and still rules differently they obviously don't think they're breaking anything.

Guess it's just the difference between double checking and challenging. I try to avoid the latter, if I disagree enough often enough I'll simply find a different game.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
I think this discussion, like the others before it, miss the point by a large margin.

It's not about DM vs Players or whether the rules are written in stone vs alterable. Ultimately, it's about the gaming group as a whole and what the group wants, enjoys, and agrees to. Anything can be proposed, but the group has to agree to it.

Before we even get to D&D, the group has to decide what to play—whether it's D&D, Cyberpunk, Pathfinder, Fudge, etc. And then who is going to be the gamemaster for that game. Then the GM/DM can pitch their game idea (and house rules, if any) to the rest of the group (who can then yay or nay it). If the group doesn't care for the GM's proposal, then the GM can propose something that does meet the group's approval or someone else can step up to the GM's seat.

Ultimately, everyone in the group has to buy into the perspective game or there will be no game. Any authority that a perspective GM has is what the group agrees to give them. Once agreed to, both the GM and the players should abide by that agreement and everyone in the group should be treated with respect. Anyone can quit the game at any point if they are not enjoying it.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Everyone who has ever said this to a player or had this said to you by a DM, raise your hand.
This idea of itinerant players wandering from table to table clutching their character sheets seems very uncommon. I imagine it happened back in the day? Does it happen much at all these days outside of AL?

Surely players just roll up new characters to play either short or long campaigns, and if they’re team spirited they’ll happily roll up a character suited to the setting?
 

Players have an expectation that the DM deals with the rules and controls the world. Players expect to focus exclusively on what their character says and does.

A subset of players does that. A different subset cares about rules and very much pays attention to them. Which, if either subset is the majority is not self-evident.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
A subset of players does that. A different subset cares about rules and very much pays attention to them. Which, if either subset is the majority is not self-evident.
And to be fair, there's probably some overlap between both subsets and the subset that wants to contribute to world-building (even people who only care about their characters in play may want to fill in a blank space in writing their characters' backstories).
 

And to be fair, there's probably some overlap between both subsets and the subset that wants to contribute to world-building (even people who only care about their characters in play may want to fill in a blank space in writing their characters' backstories).

The prior poster has made an overlap impossible by the use of "exclusively".
 

Campbell

Legend
Carefully curated and DIY are pretty much at the opposite ends of the spectrum. The DIY ethos pretty much comes from punk rock and early indie music scene. It was about the opposite of curation - putting the raw unedited stuff out there.

For what it's worth I think any group should be expected to make the game their own. I just think that should be a communal process. I believe that the experience is best when we create it together. The GM is a player like any other player.

When I play roleplaying games I expect to be involved on a creative level with a group of peers. I do not want a hand crafted experience that you think is best for me. Same with rules and stuff.
 

Carefully curated and DIY are pretty much at the opposite ends of the spectrum. The DIY ethos pretty much comes from punk rock and early indie music scene. It was about the opposite of curation - putting the raw unedited stuff out there.

For what it's worth I think any group should be expected to make the game their own. I just think that should be a communal process. I believe that the experience is best when we create it together. The GM is a player like any other player.

When I play roleplaying games I expect to be involved on a creative level with a group of peers. I do not want a hand crafted experience that you think is best for me. Same with rules and stuff.

I think the DIY ethos in early D&D was a different beast than that, and had no conceptual connection to whether it was well edited or not.
 

A subset of players does that. A different subset cares about rules and very much pays attention to them. Which, if either subset is the majority is not self-evident.
I can only speak for the people I have played with over the past 40 years. Even players who are interested in the rules expect to only be responsible for their own characters. Running the world and adjudication is solely the DM's responsibility.
 

Oof. That's a lot, and I can understand why you don't get to play if you do that. I tend to spend about an hour per session, plus some time at the start setting up a lot of the setting. I can also understand why if you put that much effort in others starting out can't take that on.

Would some resources on making prep lighter help both you feel you were less of a dog and you to bring out other DMs? Also what do you use those 12 hours per session for?
Well, I'm running an adventure path (Rime of the Frostmaiden) at the moment, so there is less for me to do there; but I am having to play online, which means more work in the creation of battlemaps, tokens and other resources. It's kind of a teacher thing - if you have more prep time available, you don't put your feat up, you use the time to make things better.

Which may mean I'm not the best example for a starting DM. My friend set out to create everything from scratch, including the setting. When I was first starting out we had those slim "modules" (much less intimidating than a 300 page book) and tended to run them as one-shots, with little regard to the setting. The first actual campaign I ran was in Traveller, not D&D, and that was with the standard Third Imperium setting.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Adding things in is a different story. I don't think D&D has ever been a toolkit, at least not compared to many other systems.
Heh - I've seen it as a toolkit since Day 1, and have spent many years using said toolkit to slowly build the system I want (a still-ongoing process and likely will be for the rest of my life).
 

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